Foremilk and Hindmilk
My daughter is so busy at work that she can often only pump for 5 minutes at a time. Is the milk that comes out first providing total nutrients or does she need to pump for a longer period of time to get all the nutrients and fat
Thanks for "Asking the Nutritionist" at Breastmilk.com.
Great question! Yes, for the first few minutes of nursing (or pumping), the milk that is expressed is called foremillk. This milk is typically bluish in color and a bit watery. It contains protein, carbohydrates (especially lactose), and vitamins. The high lactose level found in the foremilk is important for energy and brain development and also quenches the baby's thirst. Then, after a few minutes of feeding, the hindmilk will begin to be expressed. This milk is more calorie-dense, as it contains more fat. It is thicker than the foremilk, and is darker in color. The hindmilk is important for growth and will help the baby feel full.
So, both the foremilk and the hindmilk are equally important, and represent a full, well-balanced meal for the baby, so to speak.
It would certainly be more optimal if your daughter can find a way to pump for a few more minutes at at time (even if it means less frequent pumping sessions, and more time at each session), to allow for the possibility for more hindmilk to be expressed. And, I would definitely recommend that she pump only at one breast each time.
Very best wishes to you!